The idea of philanthropy is giving back to the world, doing some good because of the success you have had or gifts you’ve received. Imagine that we thought not about giving our time or money, but our data instead.
I read this piece on data philanthropy that talks about the possibilities of improvement in the public service and applications we have from philanthropy. However the piece talks not about more resources, but more data, coming from the private sector. Data from cell phone companies, transportation companies, and more that can help us better understand how the world is functioning, how it interacts, and how that might affect the public goods and services.
I like the idea of Open Data that exposes more information from our government to the private sector for incorporation in applications, for additional analysis by private entities, and for the transparency that our government is acting in our collective best interests. However you believe government ought to function, without more data about how it does function and uses its resources, we can’t know about which things we should seek to influence.
However I think we have a tremendous amount of data being collected by companies that can help government run more efficiently, and making the corporate decision to share that data can help improve the communities in which a company does business. We know that much of our data has information, but we can’t take advantage of all the information, and may not want to. Perhaps donating some of this data to the collective good is a way to adhere to, and reinforce, the social responsibility many companies include in their annual reports.